Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap
The Fair Grounds is not a usual haunt for me but this race is unique in that it features form from two places that I am more familiar with, Kentucky and Woodbine. This is a pretty tough field for just $60k. I personally think a lot of Sterwins. He showed a lot of promise early on in his career but never seemed to reach the next level on the dirt. Since switching to the grass he's been excellent. His loss last time out can be forgiven because of the ground. I think we'll see the form that saw him finish just a length adrift of Cloudy's Knight. He's not typically a fast workhorse, but he recorded a bullet two works back. The last time he had a bullet was just prior to facing Cloudy's Knight in the Sky Classic and that was his best career performance. He should get a nice trip just outside the speed. Ascertain is the main danger but I wouldn't use him off that terrible race last time out.
Hollywood Race #5 (Sunday)
I have no idea how B R's Girl is still a maiden. She was well thought of right from the start but has lost 5 races in a row. She has faced some wickedly tough company though. The big danger here is that this horse obviously has talent but has become mentally accustomed to losing. The reason I like her here is because of the big changes. She switches back surfaces, which often wakes horses up. She has changed barns and is now part of the Pletcher race winning empire and she gets blinkers off coming off the bench. If all those changes aren't enough to shake her up then she has some major mental problems. I do expect, though, that Pletcher and Gomez will get the best from her. It should be an easy success.
B R's Girl
The best race of the weekend. This race could have year end award ramifications. With a win Nashoba's Key or Citronnade could conceivably toss their hats back into the ring with Precious Kitten and Lahudood for top Turf Female. This is a very good field despite the G-2 rating and shabby purse. There are several G-1 winners and almost all 12 entrants are at least Graded Stakes placed. I notice that there seems to be a good deal of pace this race. Citronnade is unlikely to be helped by that or her outside post position. She has been a win machine in California though. Nashoba's Key is at a cross roads, if she wins again the Breeders Cup will look like an anomaly. If she loses people might start to think she's primarily a polytrack horse or perhaps that she is a shade below top class. I personally think she could lose this race and still be a top class turf horse but I would love to see that tough winning mentality she had. She never won by great distances but it seemed inevitable in her races that she would win. She just seemed to be too good to lose. Her BC effort was not a bad one even if you don't consider that it was the worst turf she will ever encounter. She was beaten 2 lengths for all the money and had a rough trip on the inside. The speed in this race should suit her style and I expect her to be very tough to beat. The one horse I might use against her is Meribel. Maybe I'm getting suckered into using a horse that is accustomed to losing but the pace is in her favor, she along with Black Mamba are the best closers in the race. I have always suspected that her talent would see her beat a group like this and Clement is extremely savvy with Turf horses going west. She'll be running latest of all and may be able to ambush Nashoba's Key right at the line before she has a chance to fight back.